Archive for the ‘recruiting’ Category

CB060536Recently I shared a statistic on Facebook, that was shared by Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, at the DSA Annual Meeting.  The statistic was that 80% of women in direct sales use the income that they make to feed, clothe, and educate their children.  While the statistic itself speaks volumes about the impact that direct sales is having on the next generation, I want to talk today about what happened AFTER I shared that statistic.

Facebook allows people to “comment” on things that you post.  Well after I posted that statistic, many of the direct sellers I am connected with on Facebook began to share their personal stories, about how direct sales has made a difference in their lives.  It wasn’t hype.  Rather, it was authentic testimonies of how direct sales is REALISTICALLY making a difference to them.  And I know that people who observed that interaction on Facebook may have walked away with perhaps a different perspective of the power of this industry.

That got me to thinking about how social media can be used to spread the “good news” of direct sales.  All too often direct sales gets a bad name in social media circles, due to over-enthusiastic sellers who feel the need to hype the opportunity, selling “get rich quick” scenarios that don’t work for most.  The result is a mistrust of the industry in general, because people don’t want to be scammed.  But if instead we focused on the genuine facts…that most people make a few extra hundred dollars per month in social media…we might get a much better response.

Amy Robinson

Amy Robinson, DSA VP Communications & Media Relations

I turned to Amy Robinson, Vice President of Communication and Media Relations at the Direct Selling Association, to get her take on all of this.  Amy spends her days talking to reporters about the direct selling industry, maintaining the EXCELLENT DirectSelling411 site, and providing the evidence and facts that people need to make informed decisions about our industry.  Here’s what Amy shared with me.

Amy believes that social media may be a really powerful tool for us as direct sellers to share the FACTS about direct sales, minus the hype.  “Social media is such a powerful medium.  You can be your own publisher, and it’s essentially free, but you must use it in the right way,” she said.  “Our society is such a sound byte society.  Direct sellers must remember that people don’t want to read LONG things in social media.  So when you’re sharing information about your opportunity, get to the point quickly, and help people see THEMSELVES in what you say.  It’s not just about you and your story.  People must be able to see success as they define it for themselves, if they are to believe that direct sales is something that can work for them.”

One resource that the DSA provides to help direct sellers and consumers get the facts about direct sales is the http://www.directselling411.com site.  While I will provide a post soon that goes into this great site in detail, it’s important for you to be aware of this site.  As I’ve said, we need to avoid HYPE when talking about direct sales in social media forums.  People are hyper-aware of hype, and it’s better to provide honest information that can help people make an informed decision.

Direct Selling 411 helps with this.  It’s a forum that lays out the facts about direct sales, lets people ask questions, and helps them find DSA member companies.  DSA members all agree to comply to a code of ethics that protects both consumers and consultants, so DSA membership is a big deal when considering an opportunity.  Amy shared that the feedback they’ve received at the DSA from consultants about the site has been phenomenal.  They absolutely LOVE having a 3rd party site that provides the FACTS.  It’s a great way to share the validity of direct sales with people that have questions.  And it’s a tool to help people be more comfortable with direct sales in general.

When we use social media tools to share the FACTS about direct sales, it helps you promote your own opportunity in a realistic way, while also promoting the industry in a positive light.  And when that happens, everyone wins.  So the next time you talk about your opportunity online, remember that the key is HONESTY and AUTHENTICITY.  By avoiding the hype, you will be a lot more convincing, and people will be able to see how direct sales will work for THEM, so they can achieve THEIR definition of success.

What do you think?  Have you promoted your opportunity online?  What were the results?  Would love to read your comments!


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WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

One of my favorite direct sales blogs is Laurie Ayers’ and Leslie Truex’s WAHM 2.0 blog.   If you haven’t read it, you really should, and you should also consider subscribing.  They really have a handle on the issues that today’s direct sellers face, and always share great ideas.

I enjoyed Laurie’s article today: 7 Replicated Website Mistakes.  You can read the whole article here: http://www.sparkplugging.com/wahm/7-replicated-website-mistakes/

While the article today raises some important issues about what you should consider when customizing the website that your company provides to you (which is an important part of your overall social media strategy), what I really wanted to point out today is that this blog is a really good example of a blog designed for recruiting.  Now I don’t know Laurie and Leslie, and I have no idea if this blog is actually designed for recruiting, but it is a good example of a blog that COULD be used for recruiting.

CBR001028It’s pretty easy to design a blog to find new customers for your business.  Simply identify the problems your customers have (related to your product line), and then provide simple, actionable solutions that your prospects can use right now without spending a dime.  As your readers come to know, like, and trust you, they may become customers for your business.

I’ve noticed, however, that people struggle more with recruiting blogs.  Perhaps it’s because we get into this recruiting mode where we only have one language that we use.  “Are you living your dreams?” we ask.  “Do you need extra cash?”  But the problem with this approach in a social media arena is that people are very wary of hype.  They’ve heard that too many times from aggressive, unscrupulous people, and so red flags go up any time they see those phrases.

So a soft sell is a much more effective strategy.  Instead of recreating the opportunity section of your company’s replicated website, instead solve PROBLEMS for your prospects, just like you would with a customer-facing blog, and keep it company neutral (don’t pitch your specific opportunity here.)  Some ideas include:

  • How can you manage working from home while keeping the kids entertained?
  • What technology do you absolutely need to work from home?
  • How do you evaluate a direct sales opportunity? (you might provide a link to the EXCELLENT http://www.directselling411.com produced by Amy Robinson at the DSA)
  • Websites to meet other work at home moms
  • Ways to be a more effective direct seller

And many other things.  The point is to be a valuable, company-neutral voice, with an opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter for more information.  (Sign up for my newsletter here.)  When you do so, people don’t get their backs up so quickly, and are more willing to consider what it is you have to say.  People will most likely be in the research phase when they discover your blog, and if you become a trusted resource, they will come to know, like, and trust you.  Then, when they begin to consider specific opportunities, they are more likely to consider yours (which you highlight on your About Me page, as well as in your content-rich e-newsletter.)

What are your thoughts?  Do you maintain a blog designed to find more consultants to join your team?  Would love to read what you think in the comments below!

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Today’s post is the next in a series discussing the successes direct sales professionals are experiencing through the use of social media.

I conducted a poll a few weeks ago asking direct sellers what social media tools they are currently using. 37% said they use Facebook, 23% are using Twitter, 23% use LinkedIn, and 17% are using other niche-specific tools.  All of these tools can help you find success in social media, and it’s so important to define your goals in order to use each social networking tool effectively in direct sales.  You’ll read how one direct seller is using some of these tools below.

I’m so excited to share today’s story with you.  This is an email I received from a subscriber to this blog (you can subscribe by clicking here), and I left it intact so you can hear it in her own words.  I love that Melissa has shared the specifics of what she has done, because I think it provides great value for those seeking guidance on applying social media to a direct sales business.  If you would like to share your story, please email it to me! You may be featured here as well.

Melissa Laverty

Melissa Laverty

First, let me say, that I have learned so much about social media and how it can help my direct sales business from you; so thank you.  In fact, I recently promoted to Senior Executive Manager because of social media.  The solutions that have most positively impacted my business are Twitter, my blog, and Ustream.  They all work in tandem.

I update my blog daily.  This is how I am able to establish a ”relationship” with my online customers.  It is here they can learn more about me and my business and decide if they want to do business with me.  A new recruit told me that she wanted to sign up with me because my About Me blurb reads, “I’ve been a Close to My Heart consultant for over two years and have loved every minute of it”.  She said she wanted to have that feeling, too.

Recently, I had a customer come to me from the UK because of my blog.  The most important thing I have learned about blogging for your business is that you HAVE to use keywords in your titles.  This is what will drive searches to your blog, and therefore allow you to acquire new visitors & hopefully customers.

I have set up my blog to “auto-tweet” so that when I have added a post, it automatically gets sent to Twitter.  I follow scrapbookers in the hopes that they will follow me and then check out my blog.

I also have a search set up on TweetDeck for “scrapbooking” & CTMH.  This way when someone posts a question or comment about either one of those things, I can respond as an expert.  Recently, there was a post from a woman who was looking for a good online resource for acrylic albums.  I directed the Tweet-er to my Shop Online site, and she purchased two.  I have sent an Idea Book to another Tweeter who scrapbooks weekly with her friends and has never used my company’s product.

Finally, I conducted a UStream webinar that I promoted through my blog and Twitter.  The purpose was to host an Online Opportunity meeting.  I told the attendees about the consultant opportunity and presented to them the contents of the new consultant kit.  I had about 6 attendees, and 1, from Alaska, choose to join my team.  (I’m in Virginia, so this would have never happened without Social Media.)

That’s my story so far.  I’m so excited to have even these few success stories because I know it will just continue to grow.

Sincerely –
Melissa Laverty, Close To My Heart Consultant

Thanks Melissa for sharing your story!  You are an inspiration.  Keep up the great work!

Jennifer Fong

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by cdsessums

by cdsessums

This is a question I get asked a lot.  Now that social media has arrived on the scene, do direct sellers really need to continue doing parties, and running the business the “old fashioned way?”  Can’t we just point everybody to our website, and call it a day?  And wouldn’t it make recruiting easier, if those people who don’t want to do parties could now be told they don’t have to?

My answer is NO.  Social media is a fantastic tool for finding new prospects for your business, for providing superior customer service, and for positioning yourself as an expert that people turn to for advice and products.  However it is my very strong opinion that it is NOT a substitute for booking, selling, and recruiting.

First of all, parties are where the immediate income for your business comes from.  Your company most likely has party averages, and when you do a party, you can pretty much count on making a certain amount of money.  You also give people a chance to interact with you live, see and touch the products, and enjoy the experience of being with friends while making informed purchasing decisions.  In short, nothing replaces the party.

Social media marketing also has a longer cycle.  It takes time to build relationships online, develop content for your blog, and build up enough know, like, and trust to get someone to make a purchase from you.  You have to connect with someone 7-15 times online, typically, before they’ll make a purchase from you.  There are online tools that help you do this, but you do need to invest time into building those relationships.

Social media marketing is an addition to a party plan direct sales business.  It can enable you to connect with people you couldn’t have met otherwise, find people that are business minded and specifically looking for an opportunity, and provide superior customer service and customer contact through community-building online groups and events.  Once those initial contacts are made at live parties, customers can get better service which can result in a thriving reorder business when they are plugged into you through social media.

In short, social media complements a traditional party plan model in many ways, and can enhance what you already do.  But nothing replaces the core business activities of booking parties, selling products, and recruiting new consultants.

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you had experiences that prove or disprove this?  Would love to hear your comments!

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home-jewelry-party-largeIf you’re in direct sales, as either a direct seller or a corporate executive, you know what I’m referring to in the title of this post.  The pity purchase is the purchase a customer makes at a party because they feel that they should buy SOMETHING.  So they locate the cheapest item in the catalog and buy it.  If you’re a direct seller that depends on pity purchases to build your business, you are not creating a sustainable business model, and I dare say that if you’re not creating value for your customer, you will not be in business long.

When you begin to market your business through social media marketing, you need to realize that you’ve entered a realm where the pity purchase does not exist.  Not to mention, the pity purchaser is not a repeat purchaser.  People have a vast array of products available to them, and they can comparison shop to their hearts’ content.  They can compare product features, costs, shipping, and more.  They can read what other people have had to say about each product their considering.  In short, if you’re not providing a superior value at a decent price, it’s hard to compete.

So how do you use social media marketing to your advantage in this type of environment?  First, you become someone that provides value for free.  Yes you heard me.  For free.  How do you do this?  My favorite way is through a blog, just like this one.  Give out tips, advice, links, guidance, and more, that can be immediately implemented.  Why do you do this?  Because you position yourself as an expert, and you build relationships with your readers.  A purchase (or a recruit) is more likely when a person knows, likes, and trusts you.  So provide valuable content, related to your product line, and you will find that people will come read your content, and will refer their friends to you as well.

Once you’ve established yourself as an expert that provides value, give people a chance to get more from you, and get to know you. This can be through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, through your newsletter, or through communities that you build in places such as Facebook groups.  By giving people a chance to interact with one another, with you at the center seeding conversations and providing value, you continue to provide people with a reason to trust you.  So when you do make product recommendations, or talk about your opportunity, people have a reason to listen to you.  Help THEM first.  Then they’ll consider what you have to offer.

Finally, once you’ve got people signed up for your newsletter, or participating in your groups, gently provide them with the oppotunity to be introduced to your company and your product line.  Make special offers, just for them.  Provide online events (such as online wine/food pairing chats, decorating ideas chat, online party, etc.) that give education as well as the opportunity to buy.

By investing some time in providing value, you build a sustainable business model that does not rely on the “pity purchase.”  And that’s a business that you can feel good about.

What do you think?  How has this strategy worked for your business?  I would love to read your comments below!

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Social Media is Great for Team Building!Social media can be an incredible tool for building and supporting your direct sales team.  One of the ways to build long-term income in a direct selling business is through recruiting other sellers and supporting them.  Your compensation for building and supporting your team is the commissions that you earn on your team’s sales, and this provides more income than you can earn through your own sales alone.  As your team becomes larger, however, it can become challenging to meet your team’s needs, while building your own personal business at the same time.  Social media can help with this.

Here are some social media tools that can be used for building and supporting a team.

  1. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn: Social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent for finding people that may be interested in your business opportunity.  Now this is not license for you to SPAM people.  However, as you share delight in your successes, enthusiasm for your business events, and your love for your customers and team, you will naturally attract others who may want to learn more. 

    You can also use groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that are dedicated to people looking for work, and build relationships/provide valuable content there.  By participating as a relationship-builder and giver in these forums, people who are good prospects for your business opportunity will be interested in learning more.  And don’t forget to use searching tools to specifically identify those people who are interested in your product line!  People who are interested in your products are often your best prospects for the opportunity.

  2. Your Blog: A blog is such an incredible tool for your direct sales business.  It is a place you can provide content of interest to prospective customers, and is your home base for building relationships with people.  Your blog is also a valuable tool for team-building.  By providing content that is of value to opportunity-seekers, you become a trusted resource that attracts people to your business. 

    A separate blog can also be valuable for your team, providing team information, incentives, links, and a place to ask questions and make comments.  Imagine being able to provide your team with articles specifically dedicated to skills your team is currently working on building!  Blogs make it possible for you to provide that content without having to email everyone, worrying about spam blockers, etc.  You can provide a central location that your team can learn to come to as they need information.  Because all the information is archived on your blog, you can also send team members to specific information as they need it, providing a valuable library of topics that will be of benefit to your team for a long time. 

    And because blogs are easy to set up and maintain, they eliminate the need to go to the expense of setting up a personal website for your team.  Instead, you can set up an attractive blog with a few clicks, and provide all the resources your team needs in one place. 

  3. Groups – A Facebook group can be another valuable tool you can use to support your team.  Facebook makes it possible to set up “Secret” groups that are not available to the general public.  Your team members must be invited by you into the secret group, and this provides an excellent forum for team members to learn from and support one another.  As your team gets large, you may feel like you are answering the same questions over and over.  Imagine being able to send your team members to a central location for the answers!  You can set up a series of frequently asked questions on the discussion board of your group, and add to these as necessary. 

    Your team members can also use your group to support one another.  If someone has a question and you are not available, she can post her question to the group, and other team members can share what they’ve learned.  The collective wisdom of your team can help you build a stronger team than you ever thought possible!  And social media enables that sharing. 

By employing social media tools that your team can access, and then teaching your team how to make the best use of those tools, you can be more efficient and effective in your team building.  Your team will develop closer relationships with one another, and that will naturally attract more people to your team.  Social media makes it possible.

Are you a leader in direct sales?  How are you using social media to build and support your team?  Did you get some ideas from this article?  What are you going to implement?  I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

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